A deity with as many attributes as arms, Saraswati (or Sarasvati) is the Hindu goddess of aesthetics. These include music, the arts, wisdom and learning. She can be compared, in many ways, to the Greek god Apollo combined with the mental prowess of the Greek goddess Athena. She is wed to Brahma, the highest deity of the Hindu religion and complements his abstraction of the universe with her active efforts to seek and maintain the wisdom to protect it. But what exactly is her position in the Hindu hierarchy?
The Two Hindu Trinities
Saraswati is part of one of the two primary trinities in Hindu culture. The first, and better known, is that of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva who together keep the cosmos in order. In the Hindu tradition, Brahma is responsible for creating the universe; Vishnu ensures the universe is maintained and ordered; while Shiva is tasked with destroying the universe at an allotted time and recycling/reviving it accordingly.
Saraswati is part of a second trinity together with Lakshmi and Parvati. Lakshmi is the wife of Vishnu and is associated with wealth and prosperity. Parvati is the goddess of love and fertility. With the wisdom and artistry of Saraswati, these three women aid in the maintenance of the cosmos alongside their male counterparts. Interestingly, there are some customs that portray Saraswati as a wife of Vishnu, possibly because Vishnu is more actively worshipped than Brahma and that she was later given to Brahma as a gift.
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